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The Temple of the Sun of Machu Picchu
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Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu

The Temple of the Sun was a sacred precinct built by the Incas to pay tribute and give offerings to the sun inside Machupicchu. This star was one of the most important deities of the Inca civilization. Thus, only the priests and the elite of the empire could enter this temple. Today, this sacred building is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Machu Picchu.


The sun was the most important god of the Incas. In the Quechua language it was called ‘Inti’. The cycle of sowing and harvesting and, consequently, life in the empire prevailed. His wife was the moon ‘Killa’ and his son the Inca emperor. In addition to the temple of the sun in Machu Picchu, the Incas built the famous Coricancha, an immense construction in his honor.


What is the Temple of the sun?

  • The temple of the sun is an enclosure built on a natural cave. Due to its high location and fine styling, it is considered a religious building to worship the sun.
  • It is the only construction of the Inca city that has a circular shape. It also has windows, niches and an entrance door. According to some chroniclers, the mummy of the famous Inca emperor Pachacutec was buried there , who ordered Machu Picchu to be built.
  • The temple is built with granite blocks that belong to the imperial Inca style. Before the Spanish invasion, it was decorated with gold and silver ornaments. These were ransacked in later years (there are still fissures that are proof of the ornaments that existed inside).
Temple of the Sun - Machu Picchu
The magnificent Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu

Where it is located?

  • This temple is located in one of the most important areas of the Inca city of Machupicchu, in the ‘Hanan’ neighborhood, in the religious sector.
  • To get there you just have to follow the tourist circuit in the company of an official tourist guide.
  • Currently you can only see the Temple of the Sun from a viewpoint located at the top of the building. For protection reasons, you cannot enter the temple.

What function did it have?

  • As the name implies, the Temple of the sun had the function of paying homage and giving offerings to the sun. In addition, at the bottom, there was a cave that would have had the function of a grave or mausoleum.
  • This temple served as an astronomical observatory where it was possible to determine exactly the arrival of the solstices and the seasonal changes (this due to the strategic position of the windows).
  • In the center of the temple is an altar carved in rock where religious ceremonies were probably performed in honor of the sun. During the sunrise in the summer solstices, the two windows cast shadows on the central rock of the temple.

How was the construction of the Temple of the sun?

  • The temple is built with granite blocks that belong to the imperial Inca style (the time of the Inca Pachacutec). The place can be accessed through a double jamb trapezoidal door. It also has a straight wall and a semicircular wall with two windows, one facing north and the other facing east.
  • The structure is built on a natural cave. Its walls are made with irregular stones assembled perfectly. However, one of its walls has a perfect curvature of 10 meters.
  • The temple is attached to a huge mountain rock above the natural cave. On the back wall you will see a window with small carved holes that probably had precious stones. This window is called ‘The snake window’.

What mysteries does this temple hide?

  • The connection of the Temple of the Sun with the Royal Tomb suggests that the Inca Pachacutec was buried inside. This tomb must have been decorated with gold and silver ornaments, which were looted with the Spanish invasion.
  • Within the royal Tomb you can find walls of fine stonework, life-size trapezoidal niches and an altar carved in the form of a three-step staircase, representing the famous ‘Chakana’ (Inca trilogy that means the Inca worldview of Hanan Pacha (the world of the gods), the Kay Pacha (the world of the living) and the Ukhu Pacha (the world of the dead).
Cave under the Temple of the Sun
The cave that is located under the Temple of the Sun, also called Royal Tomb

What are the visiting hours?

  • The entrance ticket to Machu Picchu offers different entry times: from 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1 and 2 in the afternoon. After admission, each tourist has 4 hours to visit the entire tourist circuit, including the Temple of the Sun.
  • The Temple of the sun can be visited every day of the year during the visiting hours of Machu Picchu: from 6 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.

Was the Temple of the sun set on fire?

  • Some structures in the Temple of the Sun have cracks caused by a fire that occurred hundreds of years ago. Although there are no clear clues in this regard, it is assumed that it was caused by the Spanish invaders who tried to colonize the few settlers who inhabited Machupicchu. Another hypothesis suggests that the soldiers in favor of the rebel Inca of Vilcabamba were the cause of the fire.
  • Despite the fire, the stone structure of the Temple of the Sun was not damaged.
Temple of the Sun - Machu Picchu
Exterior view of the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu

Can I enter the Temple of the sun?

  • It is currently not possible to enter inside the Temple of the Sun. The only way to observe this site is through the viewpoint located at the top of the archaeological site.
  • The other way to visit the Temple of the Sun is from the viewpoint of the Temple of the Condor. From there you can also see the Royal Tomb but you cannot enter.

With what entry to visit this temple?

  • While it is possible to visit the Temple of the Sun with any of the entrances to Machupicchu; Most visitors decide to purchase the ticket ‘Machu Picchu Only’, which includes the tour of the tourist circuit, including the Temple of the Sun.
  • The ticket ‘Machu Picchu Only’ can be purchased online or in the city of Cusco.
  • In addition to the entrance, it is an excellent idea to get an official tourist guide that explains details of the Temple of the Sun in the same Inca city of Machu Picchu. Guides can be hired at the same entrance door of Machu Picchu.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Temple of the Sun in Machupicchu

  • 1) What is the Temple of the Sun?

    The Temple of the Sun was a sacred Inca precinct located in the heart of the religious sector in Machu Picchu.

  • 2) Where is it located?

    The Temple of the Sun is located in the high part and in the religious sector of Machu Picchu. A few steps away are important buildings such as the Main Square, the Royal Tomb or the House of the Inka.

  • 3) What to see in the Temple of the Sun?

    The Temple of the Sun stands out for its fine granite constructions carved in a semicircular shape. There you can see trapezoidal windows as well as niches where religious ceremonies were held.

  • 4) Is there another Temple of the Sun in Ollantaytambo?

    Ollantaytambo is famous for its Temple of the Sun. This construction is made up of six immense monoliths carved and fitted together to perfection. It is located in the upper part of the archaeological site of Ollantaytambo.

  • 5) Can I enter the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu?

    The Temple of the Sun can be seen from different viewpoints in Machu Picchu. It is currently forbidden to enter this site. It can only be observed from a distance.

  • 6) How much does it cost to visit the Temple of the Sun?

    The visit to the Temple of the Sun is included in the entrance fee to Machu Picchu.

  • 7) What to bring to my visit?

    During the visit to the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu do not forget to bring: comfortable clothes, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a hat, water, snacks and whatever you think is necessary.

  • 8) What type of entrance ticket to Machu Picchu should I choose to visit the Temple of the Sun?

    The ‘Machupicchu Only’ ticket includes the visit to the Temple of the Sun from the top. The other tickets ‘Machupicchu with Huaynapicchu’, ‘Machupicchu with Mountain’ and ‘Machupicchu with Huchuypicchu’ include the visit from the lower part.

  • 9) Where to take the best photos of the Temple of the Sun?

    The best photos of the Temple of the Sun can be taken from the top, in the religious sector.

  • 10) Why was the Temple of the Sun burned?

    Some stones of the Temple of the Sun show signs of fire. Investigations indicate that the fire was caused by the Spaniards who sought to impose the new Christian religion on the few inhabitants of Machu Picchu.

Advice from people who have been there

The Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu

Romina PBy: Romina P

“Amazing“

“Amazing story alive, and also incredible the feeling of being there. Sacred place, divine and full of energy. It is better to book a guide before arriving. Well, Machu Picchu is better with a good guide.“


 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, August 19, 2022